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Black unemployment decreased in April

Freddie Allen | 5/13/2013, 9:43 a.m.
Residents stand in a long line to participate in a job fair in hopes of obtaining employment. Associated Press

WASHINGTON (NNPA ) – The unemployment rate for Black men and women dipped slightly in April, with females showing greater progress, according to last month’s Labor Department report.

The unemployment rate for Black men over 20 years of age was 12.6 percent in April, barely down from 12.7 percent in March. It increased slightly for White men over 20 years of age, from 6.1 percent in March to 6.4 percent in April.

The unemployment rate for Black women fell from 12.2 percent in March to 11.6 percent in April. More Black women joined the labor force in April, which helped boost the employment rate. Although the unemployment rate for White women over 20 years of age fell from 6.1 percent in March to 5.7 percent in April, their participation in the labor market remained stagnant, a possible indication that many White women have given up looking for work.

Overall, 165,000 jobs were created in April and the overall unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percent to 7.5 percent in April.

Last month’s numbers are yet another indication that the economy continues to recover at a slow pace. It is unclear what effect automatic across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequester, will have on future trends.

Even though economists resist making long-term predictions based on a monthly unemployment snapshot, they note that the jobless rate for African Americans is higher now than when President Barack Obama first assumed office in January 2009.

A report titled The African American Labor Force in the Recovery stated: “In January 2007, the year the recession began, the unemployment rate for Black workers was 7.9 percent, compared to 4.2 percent for Whites and 5.8 percent for Hispanics. By January 2009, the unemployment rates had climbed to 7.1 percent for Whites, 12.7 percent for Blacks and 10 percent for Hispanics. By the end of 2010, the unemployment rate for Blacks had risen more than for either Whites or Hispanics.”

Nearly four years after the recession ended, the unemployment rate for Blacks is still in the double-digits. In April, the unemployment rate was 13.2 percent for Blacks, 9 percent for Latinos, and 6.7 percent for Whites.

Bernard Anderson, an economist who served as the assistant secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, said that any strategy aimed at decreasing the Black unemployment rate has to address discrimination in the labor market.

“You’ve got to be sure that people are not discriminated against on the basis of race when they seek jobs,” Anderson said in an earlier interview with NNPA News Wire. “There is still a lot of employment discrimination.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said even though there are clear signs our economy continues to rebound, 11.7 Americans – 2.4 million of them Black – are still unemployed.

“Congress can either work to help or hinder our economic progress,” Fudge said. “Sequestration remains a serious threat, and without a budget plan to address our nation’s fiscal problems, uncertainty prevents employers from making decisions that will help put Americans back to work.”